Sajid Javid says he would lift work restrictions on international students if elected Tory leader


It makes no sense to send some of the brightest and most enterprising people in the world straight home after their time here’, says home secretary

Samuel Osborne,Eleanor Busby

Friday 07 June 2019 20:12

Sajid Javid has said he would allow international students to stay in the UK for up to two years after they graduate from a British university if he becomes prime minister.

The home secretary called for an end to limits introduced by Theresa May, who brought in a four-month restriction when she was home secretary in 2012 in an attempt to lower net migration figures.

Earlier this year, the government acknowledged the cap had caused issues and announced it would raise it to six months.

Bur Mr Javid said he backed an amendment tabled by former universities minister Jo Johnson to increase the allowance to two years.

“It makes no sense to send some of the brightest and most enterprising people in the world straight home after their time here,” he wrote in the Financial Times.

Mr Javid said if he succeeded Ms May he would “make Mr Johnson’s plan government policy”.

His remarks were welcomed by organisations representing university vice-chancellors.


  • International graduates remaining in UK for work pay £3.2bn in tax
  • Ministers ‘should make it easier for foreign students to remain in UK’
  • Government must introduce ‘welcoming’ visa for international students

In a statement, Alistair Jarvis, chief executive of Universities UK, said the amendment “would correct a longstanding policy barrier to growth in international student numbers”.

He added: “This policy change would send a more welcoming message to these talented people and provide a boost of skills the economy needs.”

Mr Jarvis said “growth in international enrolments in the UK has stagnated compared to our competitors, largely due to the uncompetitive visa offer,” a situation he said “must change” for the UK to “remain a leading destination for overseas talent.”

The Russell Group, an association of 24 major universities, tweeted: “Good to see growing recognition that international students should be able to stay and work in the UK for longer after studying.

“If implemented, would make the UK more competitive and benefit our economy and society.”

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An analysis released earlier this year found international graduates who stayed into the UK to work after their studies in 2016-17 contributed £3.2bn in tax and National Insurance payments.

Graduates from other European Union countries who stay in the UK to work contributed £1.2bn, while graduates from the rest of the world contributed £2bn, research from the Higher Education Policy Institute found.

Last year, a government-commissioned report recommended ministers relax the rules around foreign students staying in the UK after they graduate.

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) said leave to remain should be extended to all overseas Masters and PhD students, who bring “clear benefits” to the country.